A Japanese classical pianist is swapping New York’s Carnegie Hall for St Asaph Cathedral for a performance at this year’s North Wales International Music Festival.
Recognised as one of the world’s most acclaimed pianists of her generation Yu Kosuge, who has played in leading venues around the world, says she is looking forward to what will be her first performance in Wales.
The festival will be staged at St Asaph Cathedral from Saturday, September 14, to Saturday, September 28, thanks to support from the Arts Council of Wales, Tŷ Cerdd and Colwinston Charitable Trust.
Kosuge, 35, who played her first piano concert aged just four, was born in Tokyo and grew up in Germany after crossing the world to study piano in Munich with Professor Karl-Heinz Kammerling at the tender age of 10.
But the sacrifice paid off and Kosuge is now in huge demand as a concert pianist who has worked with leading orchestras around the globe.
She is keen to work with young pianists and will run a piano master class at St Asaph the day after her concert on Thursday, September 19.
Kosuge said: “I always enjoy participating in master classes. It’s a chance to work with young musicians and to talk about music and what inspires me.
“I began playing the piano aged two. At age four I entered Tokyo University of the Arts as part of a programme providing specialist education for gifted children. I made my orchestral debut with the Tokyo New City Orchestra aged nine.
“I then had a big decision to make with my family after being invited to study in Germany. I moved to Europe with my mum aged 10 leaving my father and the rest of my family in Tokyo. I grew up in Germany but Tokyo is still my home.
“I’m still based in Europe but my husband, who is also a concert pianist, is based in Tokyo. With both of us having a very busy concert schedule, I’m touring South America this summer before I visit Wales, we spend a lot of time apart!”
Her concert will reflect the festival’s Mother Earth theme and concentrate on pieces describing water and wind from her four elements cycle.
She added: “I’ve chosen music that will reflect the festival’s theme including the Venetian Gondola Songs from Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words as well as Janáček’s In the Mists, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata as well as pieces by Debussy, Ravel, Liszt and Wagner.
“It’s a concert performance I’m very much looking forward to. And as it will be my first time in Wales it will be a little bit special for me. I know how much music means to the people of Wales.”
Artistic Director Ann Atkinson is delighted a world class pianist such as Yu Kosuge has agreed to perform at St Asaph.
She said: “Her concert is going to be very special. It’s amazing our festival can attract such amazing world stars. Yu Kosuge has performed in most, if not all, the world’s major venues so to hear her play in St Asaph will be an absolute privilege.
“I chose this year’s theme of Mother Earth as nature has provided an inspiration for so many composers. Beethoven, for example, often used nature as inspiration for his compositions and said, on more than one occasion, he preferred the company of a tree to that of a human being.
“The evening concert on Thursday, September 26 will feature our resident NEW Sinfonia orchestra performing Beethoven’s Symphony No 6, Pastorale. Each element of the symphony is inspired by nature. It’s a very special and famous piece of music.”
She added: “We also have Welsh classical pianist Luke Jones, who hails from Wrexham performing and The Gesualdo Six, a vocal consort comprised of some of the UK’s finest young singers, will perform a concert of songs inspired by nature.
As usual, there will be an educational programme running alongside the festival.
Ann added: “The educational programme is a vital part of the festival’s ethos. This year we are going to be decorating the cathedral’s pillars as trees to reflect the Mother Nature theme.
“Pupils from local primary schools will be involved in a cross-curricular project centred on the seasons.
“Music students of all standards will be working with NEW Sinfonia musicians as part of our instrumental project and will have the opportunity to perform, something they will always remember.”
“There is something for everyone at this year’s Festival including an evening of folk music, something we haven’t done before. It’s going to be an amazing Festival featuring world class musicians.”
Tickets are available from Theatr Clwyd, Mold – 01352 701521 or Cathedral Frames, St Asaph – 01745 582929. For more information about the North Wales International Music Festival please visit www.nwimf.com